Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The Caber

Fantasy Bob is concerned to read that the traditional Highland Games are encountering tough times.   Whereas in the 1940s there were 200 or so such events spread across Scotland during the summer, recent years have seen the total decline to below 100.  There are actually more Highland Games furth of Scotland  with the lion's share in the USA and Canada - some in very un-Scottish places such as Phoenix Arizona where the absence of any possibility of a downpour during the Highland Dancing must be a big disappointment to the crowd.   But they will still have to deal with local wild life - midges or rattlesnakes - which do you fancy less? Strangely enough there is also a well established event in Switzerland - kilts, cabers and Toblerone.

Not a sound bowling action
In the same way that cricket in Britain is not the major draw that it is in India, Highland Games abroad are bigger and busier.  While the Cowal Games in Dunoon is Scotland's largest, attracting a crown of up to 20,000, the Games at Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina draw 50,000.

There is generally little of cricketing interest at a Highland Games.  The standard.ill of fare  will feature bagpiping and highland dancing, and a range of track events.  But it is therefore the heavy events which define the real Highland Games.  All shapes and weights of stones are thrown every which way and there is a serious competitive circuit the only qualification for which seems to be that the contestant must wear the kilt.

Ruining another outfield
And in the field events there is no event more definitive of the Highland Games than tossing the caber.  Caber may sound a mysterious word but is nothing more than the Gaelic for pole. The athlete attempts to throw a 20ft larch tree trunk weighing around 75kg over on its end so it rests in a straight line away from him, or as nearly as he can manage it.  This not a pastime that cricketers should enter into lightly.  FB has tried albeit with short handled cabers.  It is not easy and is definitely hernia inducing.  Large intakes of porridge are certainly advised for 75kg is a lot of weight to lift and run with, never mind throw.  Landing tree trunks end-on also tends to make a mess of the outfield incurring the wrath of doughty groundsmen, which is perhaps why cricket and Highland Athletics have never taken place together.

More's the pity - they would be great entertainment between innings - and even better entertainment during some meandering innings that FB has slumbered through.  If the IPL can find a place for dancing girls to freshen things up, then FB challenges them to find a place for caber tossing.  Perhaps they could combine the 2 - pole dancers, caber tossers, caber dancers, pole tossers. This could be the start of something great.

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